Northern Spire Communications Strategy Development and Implementation

Sunderland City Council


Sunderland City Council


Northern Spire Communications Strategy Development and Implementation


Public Relations


Infrastructure​, Regeneration and Energy


October 2015 - August 2018

The Brief

DTW was appointed to develop a communications strategy and implementation plan for a new infrastructure scheme in the heart of Sunderland featuring a major new bridge – now called Northern Spire.

We delivered a full communications and marketing service for the project team and Sunderland City Council including media relations, stakeholder engagement and film production throughout the three-and-a-half year project.

Our Work

The focus of the communications activity was to transform scepticism about the project into pride in the city’s achievements and positioning Sunderland as a successful and dynamic city. The activity had a strong focus on community engagement and positive key messages to engage stakeholders.

This communications activity was at the heart of the successful delivery of the scheme which is now viewed by local people as a huge source of pride and a symbol of the city’s aspirations.

This was developed through extensive, open and transparent media and public engagement throughout the lifetime of the project. National media relations to showcase the project and the city was combined with on the ground direct engagement with local businesses to keep them informed throughout construction and showpiece public events marking key stages in the project’s progression.

During the development of the scheme we added to the plan by identifying a major opportunity for the project to win awards to recognise its success and achievement. DTW then led a workstream focusing on entering and winning national and international awards to showcase it and the city of Sunderland.


Over the course of the three-year project, the communications activity delivered by DTW resulted in a number of notable outcomes:

  • 20,000 people turning up to walk across the bridge the day before it opened to traffic as part of a special celebratory opening
  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge requesting to visit the project on a visit to the region – with resulting publicity stretching across the globe
  • a 90-second segment on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing in front of an audience of 11 million people featuring two of the contestants dancing across the bridge.

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Print media reach

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Broadcast media reach

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International awards for the project

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